Tag Archives: mania
The assumption about bipolar is basically that you are moody; one minute happy and excited, the next sad and despondent. But this is far from the reality. To clarify on what a bipolar diagnosis is: for Type I, you need to have experienced 1 depressed mood and 1 manic mood in your entire life. There […]
A few things I’ve done whilst manic:
- As a young child, had a ‘vision’ that Jesus had leprosy. Also, at nursery school, had another ‘vision’ with depersonalisation.
- As a teenager, had other religious ‘visions’ including psychosis.
- As a teenager, the planet Venus told me (in compressed time) the philosophy of Plato’s ‘Symposium’.
- Got married. (It didn’t last.)
- Bought a one-way flight ticket to India. (And used it.)
- Been a total slut.
- Marched up and down the living room wielding a large kitchen knife, frequently stabbing the dining table.
- Had various delusions, most of which I still have (to some extent) despite meds.
- Bulk bought: cheap wristwatches; USB pen drives; clothing; etc.
- Written what I estimate to be more than a million words since my teenage years: fiction (several novels), poetry (thousands – many published), reviews, plays, etc.
- Wrote a 70k word autobiography in two weeks at the age of 20-ish despite nothing actually having happened in my life at that point.
- Made 20+ ensō paintings in 10 mins or so (total). The lawn was covered with them.
- Driven up to the Black Mountains obsessively, 3x a week for a couple of months.
14. Danced on a table in the staff room at lunchtime. No-one seemed to notice.
This is sure one weird spring. Weirder than usual, even. On the inside, my mind and heart are racing, which manifests itself in incessant leg-bouncing and shortness of breath. I don’t show any other signs of mania on the outside, but it’s there, just under the surface, like lava threatening to boil over the side of the volcano. My sleep has become fitful and on the mornings when I have to get up earlier than usual, I’m not tired. Last night I was so bored trying to sleep that I almost got up and emptied the dishwasher at two AM. The temptation to skip my meds is almost more than I can resist, but I really don’t want to blow three years of relative stability. Besides, I did that already and it didn’t go well. I want to drink, too, for absolutely no reason that I can think of other than I’d just like to have a beer.
What the F is going on here?? I haven’t felt like this in, well, I don’t know how long. At the same time, I don’t have any more motivation than usual to get off the computer and, you know, clean something. I can’t be manic because I don’t feel like taking off to parts unknown and I haven’t been driving any faster than usual (although I do crank up the stereo as soon as I’m on the freeway). Even though my thoughts race, I can still string a few together and make normal conversation. I’m not spending money either, not that I have any to spend (and I’m leaving the credit card alone so I’ll have something for the trip in September). That’s one good thing about being on a fixed income—you learn very quickly how to manage it, because otherwise you have waaaay too much month at the end of the money.
The sleep thing is perhaps the most puzzling part of it. I take enough drugs to put a rhino out, but lately I couldn’t sleep through the night if my life depended on it. I’m still a slug in the morning because I get the best quality sleep from about five or six AM, which is frustrating because I get up so much later than the rest of the household. But even though I go to bed around midnight, I’m awake till at least one or two in the morning, and then I keep waking up every hour or so just for the hell of it.
So why haven’t I called Dr. Goodenough yet, you may ask? Because I’m not manic, and I don’t want MORE meds. I don’t want to go back on Ambien because my insurance doesn’t pay for it, and besides, it’s just one more pill and I’m having enough trouble sticking with the ones I’m already taking. I don’t know why that is, but as we’ve established, I’ve tried fooling with them on previous occasions and no good ever comes from it. I guess it’s just silly season, and like everything else, it too will pass.
It sure makes things interesting in the meantime, though. I’ve been so steady for so long, but these little hiccups serve to remind me that I’m still bipolar and need to be on guard at all times. It’s so easy to get lulled into a false sense of security that my diagnosis isn’t as serious as my providers have made it out to be. I don’t feel bipolar, I simply feel…normal. A little flat emotionally, to be sure, but then “normal” people don’t get the extremes that I used to. I do remember the screaming fits and crazy highs and black depressions. They just seem so far away now. And at times like this, with the flowers in bloom and April showers falling softly on the land, it almost feels as though they never even happened.
Actually, it is cold, windy and pouring rain. Some areas of our province are still getting snow. But inside my heart and soul, the sun is shining bright and warm. This is the official end of my very deep and dark depression. The last couple of days I have started to feel better in the …
Every time someone casually says something like “Oh I’m so bipolar today” I cringe a little inside. Not because I’m offended, but because I know that so many people have no idea about the reality of bipolar disorder. Here is a list of some of the most common myths I’ve heard.
Myths About Bipolar Disorder
Myth 1. People suffering from bipolar disorder are just moody.
Being moody is more like being a little down because you didn’t lose that last few pounds before your beach vacation. Or being grouchy about the fact that it’s raining on the only day you could go to the pool this month. Being moody is not the same as being fine and functional one day and so depressed you can’t even drag yourself out of bed to eat or shower.
If you’re so depressed you can’t even think straight or focus well enough to do your job, then you’re not “moody”. If you had to drop out of school because you couldn’t concentrate enough to retain the information you were studying, then you’re not “moody”.
You’re not moody if you’ve ever gotten a huge burst of energy and felt so hyper you felt like you could literally jump out of your own skin. And yet, you can’t actually focus any of that energy to do something productive.
Bipolar disorder is caused by actual chemical imbalances in the brain. It’s true that sometimes certain things and events can “trigger” a manic or depressive episode. But often there is no trigger at all. I’ve gone from being perfectly fine to feeling so tired that I needed to sleep 16 hours a day. And then I would STILL be tired. I’ve had to quit jobs because my medications suddenly stopped working (which is actually pretty common with a lot of psychiatric disorders). I’ve been so depressed that someone could be talking to me and I would hear their words fine. But I didn’t have the mental energy to process what they were actually saying and formulate an appropriate answer.
Does that sound like being moody?
Myth 2. Bipolar People Switch From Depression To Mania Often
There are some people that switch faster and more often than others but the idea that people just switch from mania to depression on the turn of a dime is a myth. If you know a bipolar person well enough, you can usually pick up on subtle signs that a transition into depression or mania might be coming on.
Having more energy than usual, talking fast or “pressured speech”, and being more creative than usual can all be signs of impending mania. (For some reason there is a link between creative people and bipolar disorder. In fact, a lot of artists and musicians have the disorder.)
Requiring more sleep, losing interest in hobbies, and social withdraw can be signs that someone is starting to become depressed. (On a side note, I always hate it when people ask if I’ve “lost interest” in my activities. I never actually lose interest. I just don’t have the mental energy required to do the things I like when I’m depressed.)
Myth 3. Mania Is A Good Thing
Being manic is a good thing! It means you’re getting happy. Not necessarily. Some bipolar people do feel happy while experiencing mania. But it isn’t simply a matter of feeling happier.
Even if you feel happier than normal, you’re probably going to have a bunch of other horrible symptoms too. Some symptoms include “racing thoughts”, talking faster than usual (which gets on people’s nerves), and a lack of sleep. When I’ve been hypomanic (a less severe version of mania) I’ve been known to stay awake for 48 hours straight. Why? I just didn’t feel tired.
You’ll probably want to do a million things at once (like signing up for too many college classes AND doing volunteer work AND taking up 10 new hobbies). You feel like you can do anything you put your mind to. But you’ll probably be really irritable and you might find yourself snapping at friends and family for no reason.
So being manic is not normal and it doesn’t mean you’re getting happier or better.
Myth 4. Only Medication Can Help Bipolar Disorder
For most of us, taking medication properly is key to managing bipolar disorder. But there are other important things you can do to help prevent an episode.
- One of the most important things for treating bipolar disorder is maintaining a normal sleeping schedule. When I’m doing well I need about 7 hours of sleep but some people might need less or more. You have to stick to this schedule every night.
- About an hour before sleeping, turn off your computer and TV. Also, put the smartphone away. Electronic devices emit a type of blue light that signals to your brain that it’s daytime. This makes it harder for the body to produce melatonin. You need to send the message to your brain that it’s time to go to bed.
- Eat healthily. Studies have shown there is a link between diets that have high levels of omega 3 fatty acids and lower levels of depression. You should also make sure you don’t eat too many carbohydrates. Sugar has been linked to all kinds of illnesses and an excess of it in the body causes inflammation.
- Exercise. Studies have shown that regular physical activity relieves stress. I try to walk at least 30 minutes every day. When I’m able to stick to it I feel much better.
- Pay attention to yourself and learn your own warning signs. When you know an episode is trying to come on you can take note of that and tell your doctor. Your psychiatrist may decide to change your medication or increase the dose.
Myth 5. Bipolar Disorder Only Affects Mood
I wish! If it only affected your mood it would be easier to deal with. When you’re sad you can usually continue to function. Unfortunately, this disorder causes cognitive and physical symptoms too.
It can make it hard to concentrate on anything. Imagine being in college and doing well enough to have the highest grade in the program. You even make Dean’s List. And then you find yourself declining to the point that you read a paragraph and can’t remember or process what it said. You try again, reading it over and over but you are so fatigued all you can think about is going back to sleep. And then the next day is the same thing. And the next day.
Bipolar disorder also causes random body aches and pains, changes in eating patterns, psychomotor agitation (pacing, finger tapping, and other “restless” motions). It can also cause psychomotor retardation which is a slowing down of both physical activity and thought. You end up missing appointments, forgetting to do things at work, etc.
Myth 6. ALL Bipolar People Self Medicate
There are some people that self-medicate with drugs and alcohol, but not everyone does. The closest I’ve ever come to self-mediating is taking over the counter sleeping pills when I can’t sleep. And it’s important to note that drugs and alcohol DO NOT cause this illness but they can definitely exacerbate symptoms.
Myth 7. All People With Bipolar Disorder Are Abusive
Some abusive people have bipolar disorder, but not all bipolar people are abusive. I’m listing this myth because I’ve seen a lot of people say their exes are bipolar because they were cruel. I understand a lot of times a victim of abuse is desperately trying to find some kind of logical reason for they were treated like crap. But the truth is if someone is abusing you it’s being they’re a horrible person. Plain and simple. Remember, there is a line where the disorder ends and the real person begins. Some people are just jerks.
Myth 8. People With Bipolar Disorder Can’t Have Normal Lives
This isn’t true. There are many people with this illness that work or manage busy households successfully. With proper treatment over 75% of people go on to live normal lives. Chances are actually pretty good that you know someone with bipolar disorder and don’t even know it. Anyone from lawyers and doctors to fast food employees and anyone in between can have this disorder.
Myth 9. People With Bipolar Disorder Had Bad Childhoods
Experts believe that it’s caused by a combination of environment and genes. So, in other words, you can have certain genes that predispose you to bipolar disorder. But it’s your environment that helps turn those genes on, so to speak. But this doesn’t mean that abuse is the only environmental thing that can affect you. There are other types of stresses that someone can experience. I read a case about a woman that developed bipolar disorder after a head injury.
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I have been having a ton of dreams lately. I’ve said this on here before, but normally I never dream. If I have one dream a month, that is a lot. But last night was the first night in five consecutive nights that I didn’t dream at all. On top of that, I have had […]
I have tried to start close to a dozen posts over the last week or so and they don’t get very far. It isn’t that I have writer’s block as the ideas are readily there. It is more that my brain just can’t put them into any semblance of order. The reason is, and I …
I had a psychiatrist who would tell me I was not manic when I knew I was and my family knew I was. This was frustrating because I felt like he didn’t believe me and therefore was not helping me.
I now have a very new psychiatrist who I think believes me, but does not want me to get admitted to a psychiatric hospital when I get manic. This has always been a back up plan when I get into serious trouble. Therefore, I am now left with “what now?”
I think I am learning is to not freak out when I am manic. I need to take on responsibilities myself and can’t rely on doctors, medications, and the hospitals.
This is not something totally new to me, but something I need to start remembering. I should use my manic energy, but be smart about it.
Blogs I have written in the past that I need to remember and use to heed my own advice:
I need to pace myself and remember all the things I need to do when I am manic. I am really bad about knowing things that work and not doing them. This includes depression. I spend months depressed so severe that I don’t leave the house or even bed many days. I can’t or more likely don’t use the techniques I have written about. It is an unhealthy choice I am making and I need to get off this roller coaster. I so have a choice more than I think I do during the difficult times. It is just hard to push myself to do them. No more excuses!
Going back to not freaking out when I manic, I need to do all the things that I would be doing in the hospital at home and follow my action plan to the tee. I will be all right and I will get through this.
That’s how long it’s been since I was first diagnosed with bipolar disorder. It’s hard to believe because it seems like I’ve lived the longer part of my life since then, but that’s because I had it for many years before the official label became part of my medical record. I didn’t know it at the time Dr. Awesomesauce pronounced the words that changed my life forever, but as I look back over my life it has been littered with episodes of one kind or another.
It all started more than 50 years ago, when I was a little girl plagued by night terrors and depression. A little later, around age 10, I had my first thoughts of suicide; at 13 I went through a year-long depression following the death of my beloved grandmother. I can’t quite recall when the mania showed up, but I do remember times in high school and beyond when I had much more energy than usual and couldn’t shut up. Once I got sent home from work because I was telling my life story to my co-workers, starting with earliest childhood; that was during the memorable summer I spent in what I know now to have been full-blown mania. I worked 14-hour days and drank Jack Daniels to go to sleep for about three hours before getting up and doing it all over again; unfortunately, my work performance was consistent with my diagnosis and I got written up, I don’t know many times, for erratic behavior and not playing well with others.
My mid-and-late 20s were also a mess, and I drank like a fish during most of those years. I drank when I was happy. I drank when I was sad. And I drank just for the hell of it. There are entire six-month periods I don’t even remember because I was self-medicating with booze. I do recall being chronically angry, however, and I think that was the driving force behind the drinking. It masked the anger and reduced the number and intensity of my mood episodes…at least, I think it did. My late husband and my kids might see it a little differently.
Then in my late 30s and 40s, hormones began to rear their ugly heads and my family thought I was losing my mind. I once quit a job and took several months to “find myself” at the expense of financial stability. (I don’t remember doing this, but Will told me it happened so it must have. He wouldn’t have made that up.) I went on birth control pills to deal with my excessive menstrual cycles, and they turned me into a psychotic bitch with a capital B. So I stopped those, and a few months later my internist put me on Paxil for depression.
I remember waking up one morning about three weeks into it and HELLO! I was manic AF. Didn’t recognize it as such, of course, but suddenly I was racing around my house and workplace with my hair on fire. My boss was delighted: “Whatever you do, don’t stop taking your Paxil!” It was the first of several that pooped out eventually, which is another sign of bipolar. Finally, after Wellbutrin made me severely manic, my doctor essentially said “that’s it, you’re going to have a psych eval before I prescribe anything else.” And on March 7, 2012, I was finally diagnosed properly.
Now, six years later, I’ve learned a great deal about what makes me tick. The process slips badly every now and then (hence the occasional tinkering with meds) but for the most part I’ve grown a lot since then. It’s true that aging brings maturity, as does loss, although I certainly could have done without that. I still have some trouble with acceptance of this beastly disease as part of me, especially since I’ve been so stable for most of the past three years; often, it’s almost as if I never had it to begin with. But I know that’s just stinkin’ thinkin’, and I can never go back to the days when I was innocent (and ignorant) of having a serious mental illness.
And it’s OK.
This started out as a comment I made on the BP Hope website for an article about Hypersexuality. I liked what I’d written so much I thought I’d expand it and turn it into a post for Naked Nerves. It’s the kind of exploration I want to present in these pages. It’s an honest discussion of certain aspects of sexuality, so be prepared for some frank language about sex, tho nothing too outrageous given our current cultural standards.
First I think we need a bit of an introduction to the subject here. Not many people realize what hypersexuality is, so we’ll start there. Simply put, it’s a strongly heightened desire for sex, all kinds of sex, without concern for the consequences. It’s an overwhelming drive, thirst and urge for sexual experience, and it’s almost impossible to resist it. It’s a significant part of having Bipolar Disorder, which is why the discussion in BP Hope was written. People in general don’t talk about it much, and even folks with BP don’t often do it with our Psychiatrists and therapists, but we do amongst oursleves. People who have BP are usually willing, tho maybe uncomfortable, to be open and honest about it, but it seems to embarass the professionals, as most talk of sex does in our puritanical culture. It can be great fun to feel so incredibly sexual, but more often it can ruin lives and cause scandals and infidelities, failed marriages and relationships, and broken hearts all around, to say the least.
Hypersexuality can be at the heart of it all. People may screw around too much and with people they shouldn’t be with. Office/work romances, casual hook-ups with strangers, sex with people they previously thought of only as friends – which may destroy the friendship – every sort of sexual expression people can have with each other can be affected. It’s an almost impossible urge to ignore, it’s very persistent and it can totally overwhelm your good judgement with its intensity. You just Have to go have sex! Lots of it! All the time! Consequences don’t count. It doesn’t matter at the moment if it’s risky or may hurt someone else – that’s the farthest thing from your mind. All that counts is the urge to fuck, and to fuck a lot.
I’m not trying to write a treatise here, but more of a story about my own expriences with it. I suspect many of you with Bipolar will recognize yourselves in my stories. I hope you do, and that there are some useful insights to gain from what I have to say, whether you’re Bipolar or not. It affects other people too of course, not just folks with BP. Sometimes people call it sex addiction, but that’s not quite the same. It’s more of a sexual compulsion. It’s most common in people with BP while in a manic state, but it doesn’t have to be full blown mania. It can just be a very strong “push” you feel to be sexual at any time, and I do mean any time. Here’s what that’s been like for me:
I’m a 67 year old gay man and I’ve been hypersexual for as long as I can remember, even back in my childhood. I first started playing with myself sexually around age 4 or 5, maybe younger. I recall being on the couch with my mom around then and stroking myself and her getting upset, saying it was wrong and dirty. Great first lesson in sex, eh? But I kept it up, sometimes doing it so much I caused my dick to bleed. I was obsessed. I had my first orgasm in the shower at age 8. I had no idea what had happened but it felt so incredibly good. I told my friends at school about it and said it felt like going to the bathroom all over! They thought I was weird. Little did they know!!
I had my first real sex with a cousin my age at 11, with our parents in the living room and us in the bedroom. Even then I recognized the thrill and the danger of getting caught, but I didn’t care because it felt so good. We sucked each other and I came in his mouth – he didn’t and was very confused. But I reveled in the sensations. Wow!!! I guess I was mean, only into my own satisfaction, not that that excuses it. But I was just a horny kid and I wanted it so much I just didn’t care. As time went on I became involved in a compulsive sexual “relationship” with a boy my age for about 8 or 9 years thru my teens. I got all the sex I wanted, and I wanted a lot. We did it all the time. Then I read in the encyclopedia that sodomy and fellatio were “bad” and that scared me, but it didn’t stop me, so it was always a closely guarded, guilty secret. I finally lost my heterosexual virginity to a woman at age 19 and thru my 20’s was serially monogamous with several women. I had lots of sex, sometimes with men too, and I masturbated a lot as well. I was always horny. I’d have sex with anyone who’d want me, male or female.
That got more extreme when I came out at 29 and into the gay scene in the late 70’s/early 80’s. I had lots of sex, both with boyfriends and cruising in the parks and bathrooms – highly risky, but who cared? Not me. Sex parties, groups, orgies, running naked thru the parks – I loved it all, and eventually figured out I’d had anonymous sex with hundreds of other guys over the years. I just thought it was a part of gay life and since everyone else was doing it too it didn’t seem abnormal. It was just a part of our lives – it was no big deal. Of course at first this was in the early days of AIDS, so I didn’t let anyone fuck me without a condom after 1984, until I met my life-partner. Tho very hypersexual, I was aware enough to be safe. Not everyone is so smart, or lucky. Even now at this “advanced” age I’m still horny all the time, sometimes even more so when depressed, and watching porn and masturbating and fucking as much as I can. I’m also a Scorpio, the sign that governs the genitals, and some would say that has a lot to do with how I am, but who knows for sure? I just know who and what I am now, and I believe being Bipolar has always been the most of it, even when I was a kid, given other behaviors I exhibited back then.
I’d always been depressed a lot in my life but I really “lived” in hypomania, with a few real manic experiences as well, but I didn’t know what it all meant. I was terrified of Psychiatry and I certainly didn’t know I was Bipolar. Even when I tried suicide at age 29 they said it was “just” depression. A familiar story for many of us, I know. Then at age 44 I crashed and burned really bad and was finally diagnosed with BPII, rapid cycling, mixed states. Later that was changed to BipolarI and PTSD, where it stands now. I had a few hospitalizations along the way, and after the last one I was so hyped up and so sexual I felt like it radiated it out my eyes. Walking down the street I was cruising everyone I met, and they cruised me back. I was so high on sex it almost hurt. That night I called a friend and asked him to come fuck me silly. He did. I couldn’t help myself. Not what the doctors had in mind when they released me I’m sure!
When I first explored Bipolar and read about hypersexuality I thought “this is me!” It fit me so well. I was so turned on so much of the time and masturbated so frequently, often many times a day if I could. I went for 20 years without a partner but I still “cruised” for sex a lot, even tho it was way risky, but I never got caught. I felt so invincible you see – grandiosity to the max! I felt “pushed” to spend hours seeking sexual encounters – always have felt that push, still do. Hypo/Mania anyone?? But I began to wonder if it was really OK to do it so much. I worried about myself and wondered if I’d ever find a real partner who was like I was. I wasn’t very stable at all with the BP during those 20 some years and tried tons of meds to try to get OK. It was a long, hard slog and most of the meds made me sick or crazy, and they didn’t work. Then things changed.
When I was 57 I met a man who was also my age who I fell deeply in love with. We met online on Gay.com and gradully got to know one another thru emails. Then when we finally met we were naked and in bed together in 5 minutes, I kid you not! I’d finally found my mate!! Nowadays we have sex a lot, and occasionally invite a third guy in to share our magic with us. We’re both highly sexed, but he’s not BP at all. Very stable in fact, and I wouldn’t call him hypersexual. He’s just into sex a lot, but appropriately, unlike some of my experiences. And for the last year I’ve finally found a good mix of meds and I’m pretty stable with my Bipolar Disorder too, mostly, with an episode here and there, now and then. And I’m still hypersexual.
I still jerk off a lot, as does he, and it doesn’t interfere with our sex lives at all. I like to watch porn sometimes too – it’s fun and it gets me off. I still have manic rushes of hypersexuality, much of the time in fact. I’m so used to it I mostly just revel in it, but sometimes my cock takes over my mind and I get way too sexual, obsessing about it all the time. I get caught up far too much in the search for more sex, even tho my partner and I have a great sex life. But the yearning is just a difficult thing for me sometimes, not a danger to myself or anyone else, like it has been in the past. I’m still HIV negative, and I intend to stay that way. We play safe.
I’m know I’m one of the lucky ones – I never really ruined my life with my sexual escapades, though I know I’ve hurt people, which I deeply regret. Mostly it’s been a fun journey which I’d never want to change. I’m more careful now, and have been for many years, since I was diagnosed and began the search to understand my condition. I still cycle thru depression and mania, and I often struggle with hypersexuality, but I’m pretty much OK with it all. That’s good enough for me…
I realize I’ve never really told this whole story to anyone. It feels good to talk about it so openly. Hope I didn’t freak anyone out too much. And remember – this is about my experiences – your mileage may vary… Thanks for reading.
Too Sexy Steve